I came across this article this morning and was surprised by how many mixed responses it brought about in me while reading it. As Christians, we have all heard of the dangers of “Universalism” in religion. We’ve even discussed in class the ways in which followers of other faith systems can be just as, if not more, spiritual than Christians. So what do we do with a Christian who says that the concept of Hell as we know it is in conflict with the message of love that Jesus’ ministry and the Great Commission have sought and continue to seek to proliferate?
My first response, and mind you, I lack formal theological training and am a novice student of Scripture, was – what if he’s right? So I decided to see what the Bible actually says about Hell, and specifically, what Jesus had to say about it. I came to the conclusion that Jesus’ message is indeed one of love, but it is equally one of justice, and that the Bible does not mince words with regard to either (Luke 16, Matt. 13:42, Matt. 25:41, Rev. 20:15, Luke 4:18-19, Luke 11:39-42). To say that Hell is not real is to say that Christ did not descend into Hell when He died – which means He did not atone for our sins, nor did He suffer separation from God on our behalf. Without atonement, there is no justice and we are not saved. We have discussed in class the purpose not only of general and special revelation, but also of the role of the Holy Spirit in making sure that we GET that message – the message is that God is real and we will be held accountable for grasping His Truth. Is Hell a fiery pit at the core of the earth? Is it life here on earth without Christ? I don’t know. What I do know is that it is not a place anyone wants to spend eternity.
To say that universalist messages which profess that all roads lead to heaven, and that heaven can be attained by deeds alone is a disservice to souls is a severe understatement, and one that exacts the cost of eternal fellowship with a loving God. As counselors, we will need to be ever wary of these messages of tolerance that creep in the back door so inconspicuously because they are such “nice” ideas. We all want to be nice. We don’t want to exclude people, but Scripture is clear. Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”